Follow These Tips to Fill Your Schedule

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

Getting patients to agree to accept treatment isn’t exactly easy. They’re good at coming up with reasons to say no, ranging from the treatment is too expensive to they just don’t think the procedure is necessary. Whatever the reason, lackluster case acceptance can be pretty frustrating, with low production numbers hurting your bottom line and causing extra stress in your practice.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way. There are steps you can take to fill your schedule so you can grow your practice and provide patients with the care they need. And I can help you get there. Just follow these tips to get started:

Consider Hiring a Treatment Coordinator. I get it. You enjoy presenting treatment chairside. The problem is, as a busy dentist, you just don’t have enough time to go over all aspects of treatment and answer patient questions. A Treatment Coordinator does.

This team member can sit down with patients in a relaxed environment to discuss their treatment plan for as long as necessary. Patients have the opportunity to ask questions without feeling rushed, and will leave your office with a much better understanding of why treatment is being recommended and what could happen if they opt not skip it.

It’s also a good idea to train your coordinator to follow up with all patients two days after the initial presentation, with the goal of getting them on the schedule. The coordinator should use this as an opportunity to provide more education and to address any perceived barriers to care. Patients will appreciate the effort and be better informed, making them more likely to say yes to treatment.

Do some investigating. If patients tell you they’re not going forward with treatment, don’t just leave it at that. Ask them why. If you know what issues are keeping patients from accepting treatment, you can address them.

If patients don’t see the value in the services you provide, for example, you can change that by providing more education. Show them what’s going on in their mouth with x-rays and images and explain to them what might happen down the road if they decide to put off treatment. Go over how the services you provide can help get them to optimal health. Remember, educated patients are more likely to accept treatment, so spend time focusing on this during every appointment.

Education also can help fearful patients feel more comfortable accepting treatment. Knowing exactly what to expect during the procedure will ease some of their anxiety. It also helps if they can see before and after images of successful cases you’ve completed. Show them they’re in good hands, and fear will no longer keep them from getting the care they need.

Cost is also a common barrier you can help patients overcome. Many patients don’t get treatment because they can’t afford it or would rather spend money on other things. Showing them the value in the dentistry you provide will help make scheduling treatment a priority, and offering third party payment options from companies like CareCredit will ease the financial burden. With CareCredit, patients can pay small amounts every month rather than writing one large check, making them much more comfortable with the financial commitment. The result? Patients get the care they need and your practice production goes up.

Ask patients about their goals. Patients are much more likely to accept treatment they want, so find out what types of services they’re interested in. This will help you tailor your treatment recommendations. The easiest way to gather this information is through new patient interviews. Be sure to repeat the interviews every 18 to 24 months to keep up to date on their changing goals and interests.

Talk at their level. Using big clinical words won’t impress your patients; it will only confuse them. Describe treatment in a way that patients can understand. They’ll be much more likely to say yes if you do.

Don’t focus on cost. This is a common mistake made during case presentations. The coordinator begins by letting patients know how much money treatment will set them back. The problem? Patients become focused on the price tag and barely listen to the rest of the presentation.

I suggest you start the conversation by discussing the benefits of treatment and the possible consequences of delaying it. Then, the coordinator should answer any questions patients have. Cost shouldn’t come up until the end of the presentation, after patients are already envisioning their smile after treatment.

Don’t let lackluster case acceptance get you down. Instead, take action. Following these tips will help you fill your schedule and boost your bottom line.

Ready to really make some improvements to your case acceptance numbers? Feel free to contact me. I’d love to tell you about McKenzie Management’s one-day treatment presentation training and the benefits it could bring to your practice.

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